Texas Legislature Sends Bill Allowing Takeover of Harris County Elections to Governor

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sunday, May 28, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1933, which would give the secretary of state wide authority to direct how elections are run in Harris County, Texas, the state’s most populous county and a Democratic stronghold. The bill now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) for his signature.

S.B. 1933 would allow the secretary of state’s office to take over elections in any county with a population of at least four million people if someone who participated in the election, such as a candidate or political party chair, lodges a complaint. As the largest county in the state, only Harris County fits this population criterion. 

If the secretary of state has “good cause to believe that a recurring pattern of problems with election administration or voter registration exists in the county” — a low standard to meet — their office would be able to exercise extensive oversight of the county’s election procedures. The secretary of state would be empowered to approve or reject any election policy or procedure, not just those listed in the complaint, and fire election officials at the end of the oversight period.

S.B. 1933 originally applied to all Texas counties, but was amended to apply only to Harris County, making it one of several bills this session targeting the Democratic stronghold specifically. The Legislature previously passed a bill eliminating the position of election administrator and the Senate passed one that would give the secretary of state power to order reruns of Harris County elections. These bills come after Texas Republicans have complained about intentionally targeted Election Day problems in Harris County during the 2022 midterms, a contention not supported by data.

Read S.B. 1933 here.

Track the status of S.B. 1933 here.